The Three Iron Laws Of Working In A Modern Bureaucracy

by Frost on January 12, 2012

*I’m on a two-month blogging vacation while I backpack around Southeast Asia. Until I return, I’m posting excerpts from my book, Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st-Century Man’s Guide To Life. If you like this post, you should buy a copy for yourself and everyone you’ve ever met in your life.*

(Short one today)

The three iron laws of working as a cog in a modern bureaucracy:

1) You will never have to do anything

2) If you ever actually do anything, it will be useless

3) If you ever actually do something useful, it will be rendered useless by subsequent layers of management

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rowan January 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm

I used to work for a huge IT company. I was hired as a Software Developer and had no responsibilities other than write code to spec. The cube made me so derpressed that I decided to conduct a little experiment. How long could I remain employed and not write a single line of code?

I don’t know.

The experiment was discontinued after 7 months when I finally quit.

Bill January 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm

On my first assignment to Washington, DC my dad told me, “It is a poor bureaucrat who CAN’T delay an action for so long that EVEN THE GUY WHO STARTED IT is glad to see it dead and buried.”

flyfreshandyoung January 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm

For the first time at my corporate job, I ran into this recently.

Without giving too much away, another department needed a mass fix on a bunch of client information, which my team is responsible for. We fix shit, update new stuff, and keep everything accurate. Most of the changes we make are small but incredibly necessary in times when shit does go wrong.

But, because of the time factor, we were told to update stuff to fit the computer logic formulas so it wouldn’t trip our system, not to asses accuracy and fix incorrect shit. We normally have procedures for this that allow us to make mass fixes CORRECTLY, but it takes a couple of days. I came across multiple files that were missing information or downright incorrect, but the instructions were clear- format, not accuracy. Speed over thoroughness.

Now, not only will the info continue to be incorrect in the future, potentially costing time and money, since it is formatted correctly it won’t trip our system logic that kicks it out to us for fixing.

Completely wasted time, and now things will be worse off for the department than before if things ever go wrong. Seriously, with the nature of what we handle my conscience was nagging me the whole time. But, upper management decreed, so we performed.

The only upside- my team’s asses are covered.

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